In Search of Theodore Roosevelt

By David Michael Newstead.

Few presidents are as accomplished or as iconic as Theodore Roosevelt. And as this year’s Movember wraps up, I wanted to explore the legacy of our 26th commander-in-chief who still manages to standout in interesting ways a century after his time in office. Of course, there are numerous biographies about him. There are whole websites dedicated to all of his speeches and quotes. And his tough masculine persona is so legendary that even his diplomacy and his economic policies are considered manly.

Beyond those things though, I was determined to seek out some of the real world examples of that legacy. And fortunately for me, I didn’t have to go far.

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Teddy & the Bully Bar is a Theodore Roosevelt themed establishment in Washington D.C. The place is half beaux-arts and half faux ruggedness where they offer drinks like the Rough Rider and the Trustbuster, highlighting Roosevelt’s many achievements. It’s a restaurant with smiling portraits of the man all along the wall. I stopped by this week and, after some deliberation, I ordered the Conservationist, a bitter cocktail swirling around a chunk of ice.

Next, I decided to visit Roosevelt Island – a national park on the Potomac between Washington and Virginia. And in the middle of all the trees and the dirt paths, there’s a titan-sized monument of Theodore Roosevelt encircled by fountains and quotes engraved on four giant stone monoliths, presumably for archaeologists in the future to find. In the meantime, I walked around and tried to absorb the lessons of Roosevelt Island, reading timely advice about youth, manhood, the state, and the importance of nature. I listened to the birds and to the far off onslaught of traffic, taking it all in.

I leave you with one of the quotes I saw engraved there: A man’s usefulness depends upon his living up to his ideals insofar as he can.
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